University’s nurse anesthesia program emphasizes profession



Agnes Cho

National CRNA Week spanned from Jan. 22 to Jan. 28 and began a month-long campaign aiming to spread awareness and appreciation for certified registered nurse anesthetists in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This campaign was conceived and initiated by the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA).

“There are more than 3,000 certified registered nurse anesthetists in Pennsylvania, yet most patients don’t know about CRNAs until they need one,” Aaron Ostrowski, president of PANA, stated. 

PANA encourages students who are pursuing their CRNA degrees, including those at the University’s reputable program, to take selfies alongside posters that will be displayed in the inbound and outbound lines of the R5 train at Villanova Station starting Feb. 1. CRNA students who take SEPTA lines are encouraged to post selfies under the hashtag “CRNAinPA” as a form of participation in the campaign’s efforts. 

“We want to recognize these professionals for the work they do,” Ostrowski said. “Students aren’t just the future of our profession. Like so many other advanced practice nurses, they’re also the face of anesthesia care from the emergency room to the operating room and beyond.” 

The student-centered aspect of this campaign seeks to usher in the new generations of nurse anesthetist into a better-informed public by putting names and faces to the title, CRNA, that allows patients in settings of surgical procedures to pain management alike to receive high quality, compassionate and cost-effective anesthesia care.      

CRNAs are the main providers of anesthesia care and can practice only upon fulfillment of clinical work hours, usually averaging 2,500 clinical hours per student nurse anesthetist, graduation with at least a master’s degree from an accredited program and passing a national exam. Pennsylvania is home to 12 highly rated nurse anesthetist programs at the University of Pennsylvania Nurse Anesthesia Program, Thomas Jefferson University, Drexel University and University of Pittsburgh. These schools will be featured in PANA’s campaign. 

For the second straight year, National Public Radio affiliates in the state, including WHYY 90.9 FM, will air radio broadcasts to bring attention to this campaign throughout the month of February. Through these radio spots and posters, PANA intends to rally support and recognition of these advanced practitioners. National CNRA Week, which has come and gone, continues into a month-long extension of informing the general public, raising interest in prospective future student nurse anesthetists, and expressing gratitude for the lifesaving work of current certified registered nurse anesthetists. Villanovans, especially those in the CRNA program, are invited to join in on the cause.